Friday, May 12, 2006

Gone Flat

I was running late this morning. I know I’m late if the school bus is going through my subdivision as I leave. If I don’t get out before it comes through, I will be even MORE late waiting for them to load up my neighbor’s 7 children. So, today I dashed out to my car and flew out of the driveway. As I headed down the street I noticed my car was really loud – like I was driving with my door open. What was all that road noise?

I pulled over and a truck behind me pulled along side to tell me my right front tire was VERY flat. No slow leak there. “So that’s what that noise was,” I said with girlish naiveté. I hadn’t left my subdivision yet, so I turned around and went back to my house very slowly (waiting, of course, for the bus to load up my neighbor’s 7 children). I made a phone call to my boss telling him I’d be late, one to my mother asking if I could ride to work with her and another to wake up DB and have him come outside to look at the car.

(Yes, the same car with the vacuum seal leak and the acceleration problem I’m ignoring.)

I might have driven twenty miles on that rim, my radio cranked up to block out the obvious. Sometimes my mind just misses the details. Had I even looked at my car, I would have noticed the tire. My mind was elsewhere.

I would have to say the same applies to my writing. I’ve mentioned that my revised partial is sitting as a paperweight in someone’s office in downtown Manhattan. That revision, with insights from the editor and the playfriends, is a far cry from the original one. The original that I thought was fine. There may have been some extra road noise, but I was bound and determined to ignore it until the editor pointed out the obvious. It needed work. Lots of work, but thank goodness they thought it was salvageable.

It was not as easy to fix my partial as it was for me to have DB take my tire in to be patched, but the results were the same. I came out with something much better than I started with. My MS had been flat, but I was too distracted to see the obvious problems. To be honest, I read my revision letter going “yep,” “yeah, I thought about that,” and “I understand what she means there,” all the way through. I knew I had a flat, I just wanted to get to work.

Obliviousness or denial – your call. Do you turn a blind eye to problems in your MS? How do you handle the obvious issues that you’re not ready to address yet? I know we’ve got more than a few tile scrubbers around here when the flow isn’t flowing.



Linda Winstead Jones said...

I've heard manuscripts compared to babies many times. This is the first time I've seen one compared to a dysfunctional automobile. :-)

But I do hear you, SP. I don't scrub tile when I see a problem and don't know how to get around it, but I do find other ways to occupy myself away from the computer. I'm in the middle of a rewrite, and yesterday I had the uncontrollable urge to make a huge pot of vegetable soup that required about an hour of vegetable chopping and slicing. It was therapeutic, and did the trick. I hope.


Playground Monitor said...

I can find problems that don't exist and then scrub tile or pull weeds with the best of them. But I've also been known to just put a long blank line on the page and the notation "fill in later" and move on. I'll do that with just a word too. My mind can get quite the proper word so I'll just leave a blank and then I'll log onto the dictionary or thesaurus site and start searching.


Instigator said...

Tile scrubbing? Not me. Nope. *Instigator shakes her head vigorously*

Um, when this happens to me I turn to my CPs (and the playfriends). I can usually depend on them to either tell me I'm paranoid and inventing problems that aren't there or confirm the issue and then brainstorm a solution.


Angel said...

I can usually see the problems in my manuscripts when I read back over them and I have some great CPs who are happy to point out the missing elements. Thanks ladies!

My usual routine is this:
-find or become aware of the problem
-complain about it for several hours/days/weeks (depends on how big the problem) :)
-brainstorm a solution, alone or with friends
-go through the rewrite process again

I've never been known to clean during this time, but I can find other things to occupy me, especially other types of writing and mindless tv watching. I know there is a problem when the amount of tv I watch goes up exponentially. Usually I only take the time to watch the shows I really want to see, I never channel surf unless there's avoidance going on.


Maven Linda Howard said...

Well, this is interesting. When I don't want to write because the words just aren't THERE, I go do other stuff. I shop -- work shopping, not fun shopping, so that means groceries, supplies, stuff like that -- and I take care of things I'd been putting off. Some days I have so many errands lined up I have to map out my route so I can get everything done in a reasonable length of time. And while I'm driving from place to place to place, I'm thinking. Know what usually happens? I either spot the place a few chapters back where I took a wrong step, or the fix to the log jam occurs to me, or some great idea for a twist will blow through my mind. It's almost always while I'm driving.

So, SP, this probably wouldn't work for you, because your car is broken. You're in a fix. Either get really busy writing and tell Good Boy to get the car fixed for you because you're really busy writing, or go get the car fixed yourself and while you're driving think about the story, just mull it over, and see what occurs. Don't let Good Boy go with you, either. You have to be alone in the car. I've had some really cool experiences when I was alone in the car.

If this doesn't work, I always figure something is wrong with the car and I trade it in. I can't stand unimaginative cars.

Angel said...

Hahaha!!! Love the car idea, Linda. Because I LOVE to plot and plan in the car. I plotted the first half of my next book on the way to my Mother's wedding last week. I'll just kind of imagine what is coming up, then my mind will drift as I drive and in a blink the answer is there or the scene starts playing out in my mind. I always keep a hand-held tape recorder in there so I can keep up with the ideas and don't lose them.